About Me - Biography, Alaskan Artist - Elise Tomlinson
Alaskan Artist - Elise Tomlinson
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photograph of the Alaskan Artist Elise Tomlinson







I was born in O'Neill Nebraska in 1969. I earned a BFA at the University of Alaska Anchorage in printmaking with a secondary emphasis in oil painting.

In 1998 I received an MLIS from the University of Hawaii Manoa. In 1999 I took a position at the University of Alaska Southeast where I am currently an Associate Professor of Library & Information Science .My home and studio are currently on Douglas Island Alaska...where I plan to stay for a good long time.

Here is a link to my official Artist's Resume.

For aditional random info about me (in no particular order) see: 100 Fun Facts to know & Tell!

Or you can visit my Life in Alaska page or read my artist blog entries to get an idea of how I and why I paint, or "Like" me on Facebook!

Artist Statement

In Kindergarten one of my drawings won a blue ribbon at the county fair; after that, making art was all I wanted to do. At age eleven I began private lessons with a master watercolorist and that sealed the deal; I was hooked. But in my small hometown, art translated to realistic flowers and barns.

Later, after winning a scholarship to an advanced placement art program in New York, I was exposed to paintings by Matisse, Chagall and Gauguin; I experienced public sculpture, performance art and installations...my idea of what constituted as art, changed forever.

However, the pace of life on the East Coast was not for me. I grew up watching the Swiss Family Robinson and Grizzly Adams and I wanted to be among the mountains and wildlife. At eighteen I was accepted into the Bachelor's of Fine Arts program at the University of Alaska Anchorage. There I explored themes such as nuclear holocaust, the affects of technology on evolution, as well as body image and gender roles. I also began incorporating actual text into the imagery. I felt that my art had to be raw, painful, and full of obscure references to be taken seriously.
In my final year at UAA I completed a solo printmaking exhibit for my thesis project. After graduation I didn't want to create anything intellectual ever again. I spent several years doing functional pottery and hand built clay sculpture. After awhile though, narrative and the human figure re-emerged as a dominant theme, as well as my passion for painting, particularly oil painting. Why?

I could tell you many scholarly reasons but the true reason is the smell. Homesick, I once wandered the streets and canals of Venice for hours trying to find the source of the oil paint and solvents I could smell after taking a shortcut down an alley. Eventually I found a painter in his studio. We shared a cup of coffee and although we didn't speak the same language, I know he recognized the look of love in my eyes as I deeply inhaled the toxic fumes.

Just prior to moving to Juneau I was attending graduate school in Hawaii. There I was surrounded by intense tropical colors which I loved. Here in Southeast Alaska the color pallet is more monochromatic; surrounded by the green of the Tongass National forest and the perpetual gray sky, color has taken on a new significance for me; color has become the central component of my compositions and an element I truly crave.

For years I've set figures against a colorful yet nonobjective background which morphs slowly into an abstract landscape. The landscapes, part of recognizable settings are even more apparent with the use of plant life local to our region. I have integrated the female form with the complementary shapes of the natural world

The imagery is ambiguous enough to allow each viewer to use their own imagination to create narrative. Beauty creates a magical kind of power and provides a momentary respite from the horros of everyday reality. I hope that these paintings will bring that magic into the lives of my viewers.